Security 101

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Security 101

Post  zcole on Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:12 pm

I thought the following might be of interest to some people. If you think something should be changed or added, just add a reply. I believe it deals mainly with safe-guarding homes, but it might also pertain to safe-guarding apartments.

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Home Security 101,
The most common threat to our home/apartment is burglary.
According to the FBI, a burglary occurs somewhere in the United States every 15.4 seconds. By definition, the crime of burglary is a non-confrontational crime. However, becoming a burglary victim can leave a family feeling vulnerable and violated. To avoid becoming a burglary victim, it is important to first gain an understanding of who commits them and why.

The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the daytime when most people are away at work or school. The summer months of July and August (vacation season) have the most burglaries with February having the fewest crimes. Burglaries are committed most often by males under 25 years of age looking for items that are small, expensive, and can easily be converted to cash. Favorite items are cash, jewelry, TV, watches, laptop computers, DVD/VCRs, video players, CDs and other small electronic devices are high on the list. Statistics show that 70% of the burglars use some amount force to break in to a dwelling but their preference is to gain easy access through an open door or window. Ordinary household tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, pry bars, and hammers are most often used by burglars. Burglars continue to flourish because police can only clear about 18% of all reported burglaries and rarely catch the thief in the act.

Doors And Locks
The first step is to "harden the target" or make your home/apartment more difficult to enter. Remember, the burglar will simply bypass your home if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools than they possess. Use high quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 locks on doors to resist twisting, prying, and lock-picking attempts. A quality deadbolt lock will have a beveled casing to inhibit the use of channel-lock pliers used to shear off lock cylinder pins. A quality door knob-in-lock set will have a 'dead latch' mechanism to prevent slipping the lock with a shim or credit card.
* Use a solid core or metal door for all entrance points
* Use a quality, heavy-duty, deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt
* Use a quality, heavy-duty, knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism
* Use a heavy-duty, four-screw, strike plate with 3-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame
* Use a wide-angle 160° peep-hole mounted no higher than 58 inches

Place highly visible decals on the door near lock that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification is in place. Burglars dislike alarm systems and definitely big barking dogs.
* Keep the latch mechanism in good condition and properly adjusted
* Use anti-lift devices such as through-the-door pins or upper track screws
* Use highly visible alarm decals, beware of dog decals or block watch decal

WINDOWS
Windows are left unlocked and open at a much higher rate than doors. An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole reason for your home to be selected by a burglar. Ground floor windows are more susceptible to break-ins for obvious reasons. Upper floor windows become attractive if they can be accessed from a stairway, tree, fence, or by climbing on balconies. Windows have latches, not locks and therefore should have secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside. Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks work well for horizontal sliding windows and through-the-frame pins work well for vertical sliding windows. For ventilation, block the window open no more than six inches and make sure you can't reach in from the outside and remove the blocking device or reach through and unlock the door. In sleeping rooms, these window blocking devices should be capable of being removed easily from the inside to comply with fire codes. Like sliding glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary for ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally. The least expensive and easiest method is to install screws half-way into the upper track of the movable glass panel to prevent it from being lifted out in the closed position.

As a deterrent, place highly visible decals on doors/windows that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification system is in place.
* Secure all accessible windows with secondary blocking devices
* Block accessible windows open no more than 6 inches for ventilation
* Make sure someone cannot reach through an open window and unlock the door
* Make sure someone cannot reach inside the window and remove the blocking device
* Use anti-lift devices to prevent window from being lifted out
* Use crime prevention or alarm decals on ground accessible windows

ALARM SYSTEMS
Alarm systems definitely have a place in a home security plan and are effective, if used properly. The reason why alarms systems deter burglaries is because they increase the potential and fear of being caught and arrested by the police.

The deterrent value comes from the alarm decals on windows and doors and any other signage on the lawn or property. Home and apartment burglars will usually bypass a property with visible alarm signs and will go to another property without such a sign or decal. Some people, with alarm systems, feel that these signs and decals are unsightly and will not display them. The risk here is that an uninformed burglar might break a window or door and grab a few quick items before the police can respond. Also, don't write your alarm passcode on or near the alarm keypad.
Alarm systems need to be properly installed and maintained. Alarms systems can monitor for fire as well as burglary for the same price. All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective in case someone does break in. However, these audible alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after one or two minutes. The criminal got the message and will be long gone but your neighbors will have to listen to the alarm bell, sometimes for hours, until it is shut off.
* Alarm systems are effective deterrents with visible decals and signage
* Alarm systems to be properly installed, programmed, and maintained
* Alarm systems need to have an audible horn or bell to be effective
* Make sure your alarm response call list is up to date
* Instruct your neighbor how to respond to an alarm bell

LIGHTING
Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of life and activity inside a residence. A darken home night after night sends the message to burglars that you are away on a trip. Light timers are inexpensive and can be found everywhere. They should be used on a daily basis, not just when your away. In this way you set up a routine that your neighbors can observe and will allow them to become suspicious when your normally lighted home becomes dark. Typically, you want to use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn. The pattern of them clicking on and off simulates actual occupancy. It is also comforting not to have to enter a dark residence. The same light timers can be used to turn on radios or television sets to further enhance the illusion of occupancy. Good lighting is definitely a deterrent to criminals because they don't want to be seen or identified.)

PRETEND TO BE A BURGLAR
Walk around your property and ask yourself: How would I break in? Examine your house from the street, where are the blind spots? What are the most vulnerable areas and, therefore, likely to break in? Stand outside the windows and look in, make sure no valuables, like expensive electronics or artwork, are visible. If you can see your belongings doing this, so can criminals.

BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Good neighbors should look out for each other. Get to know your neighbors on each side of your home and the three directly across the street. Invite them into your home, communicate often, and establish trust. Good neighbors will watch out for your home or apartment when you are away, if you ask them. They can report suspicious activity to the police or to you while you are away. Between them, good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing vendors to mow your lawn or remove snow. Good neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can inspect the outside or inside of your home periodically to see that all is well. Good neighbors will occasionally park in your driveway to give the appearance of occupancy while you are on vacation. Allowing a neighbor to have a key solves the problem of hiding a key outside the door. Experienced burglars know to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, and above the ledge. Requiring a service vendor to see your neighbor to retrieve and return your house key will send the message that someone is watching. This neighborhood watch technique sets up what is called 'territoriality' which means that your neighbors will take ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood. This concept works in both single family homes communities and on apartment properties. This practice helps deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way. Of course for this to work, you must reciprocate and offer the same services.
* Get to know all your adjacent neighbors
* Invite them into your home and establish trust
* Agree to watch out for each other's home
* Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality
* While on vacation, pick up newspapers, and flyers
* Offer to park your car in their driveway
* Return the favor and communicate often


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(Most of the above was written for a home owner, but can also be used to an apartment owner.)
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zcole
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